Atty. Gen. Raoul joins suit against Trump Title X 'gag rule'

Planned Parenthood, AMA file separate suit, as Illinois, D.C., and 19 other states fight to protect health care, reproductive rights

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined Tuesday in filing suit against a “gag rule” imposed on Title X health funding. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined Tuesday in filing suit against a “gag rule” imposed on Title X health funding. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Illinois joined 19 other states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday in filing suit against the Trump administration’s new anti-abortion “gag rule.”

The 21 attorneys general filed the suit in Oregon, where Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association also filed a separate suit seeking to protect unfettered access to health care under the Title X program providing federal funding to those in need.

The suits seek to stop the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from imposing a new rule on Title X. It would ban government funding for any organization that even mentions the option of an abortion — what critics call a “gag rule” on women’s health care.

It was originally proposed last May, when President Trump boasted about it in an appearance before a national anti-abortion group, saying, “I pledged to stand for life, and as president, that’s exactly what I’ve done.”

Planned Parenthood believes it specifically targeted its government funding and will have an especially heavy impact on Illinois. Planned Parenthood of Illinois has 17 locations across the state, and while that makes up 18 percent of Illinois facilities under the program, the organization treats 42 percent of the state’s Title X patients, including men as well as women, many in areas without other immediate access to health care.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul pointed out that Planned Parenthood wasn’t alone among state health agencies that would feel the impact. “Title X allows the state of Illinois to provide critical funding to 28 agencies around the state, which provide vital health-care services to tens of thousands of Illinois’s most vulnerable residents,” he said in a statement after the suit was filed. “Those who will suffer the most under the administration’s proposed rule are those who can least afford it: women, children, and men who are uninsured, underinsured, or living at or below the federal poverty level.”

Ignoring criticism from a mandated public-comment period, the Trump administration moved to publish the rule changes last month, setting up a final 60-day period before they take effect. While that jeopardized funding estimated at $2.5 million for Planned Parenthood of Illinois over the last six months, the organization’s President Jennifer Welch immediately said it would continue its mission to provide health care to people across the state. “As the rule text stands today, Planned Parenthood of Illinois will not accept any Title X funding because we will not compromise our ethics or our patients’ health,” Welch said.


“The lawsuit argues that the gag rule is illegal. (It) is about fighting for our patients’ health and rights.”

Jennifer Welch, president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

And Tuesday the organization filed suit to halt imposition of the rule along with the AMA. “The lawsuit argues that the gag rule is illegal,” Welch said in a statement. “This gag rule is just the latest step in the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to ban abortion, limit access to sexual and reproductive health care, and block care at Planned Parenthood.

“This lawsuit is about  fighting for our patients’ health and rights,” she added. “We’re not alone in opposing the gag rule: the medical community, public-health experts, and the general public are against this rule as well.”

Illinois congressional Democrats joined Planned Parenthood last Friday in denouncing the proposed Title X rule changes.

Raoul ran for office insisting that he would fight excessive actions taken by the Trump administration that impinge on the rights of Illinois residents. He pledged at his inauguration in January to “block misguided federal policies that violate our citizens’ rights.”

Illinois joined Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin in filing the suit.

California filed suit against the Title X rule changes Monday in San Francisco, within hours of their formal publication in the Federal Register.